Sometimes in life, you just need attitude to get ya through. This attitude of screw it, I am going to get this done my way seeps through every pore of this second record from Canada’s own sleazy rockers, Dirtbag Republic. The album cover sets the tone, with the woman standing near a junkie-looking dude, with her eyes blacked out (reminding me of Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap by AC/DC).
DIRTBAG REPUBLIC – Downtown Eastside
Downtown Eastside gives birth to some stone cold classic tunes, but is so sleazy you feel the need to jump in the shower when it is over. I genuinely had never heard of the group until this review, but they sure do know how to rock. The lyrics give out smoking vignettes of the less upmarket areas of town, but it is authentic rock, taking cues from the usual suspects (GNR, Stones etc).
There is one thing you can take from this album is the energy of the songs and the aforementioned attitude. Vocalist Sandy Hazard (who also drums) makes for an engaging frontman. His voice touches on Iggy Pop and Bon Scott, but with less sandpaper. The sound of the record is modern, yet warm and not sterile like some newer rock collections.
The songs are short bursts of snarling mayhem, with a keen eye for melody and mood. Rippers include “Junkie Girl” and “Homeless“. “Swing and a Miss” also gets a bit Southern Rock, with the buzzsaw guitars reminding me of ZZ Top.
Like the latest record from Rhino Bucket, Downtown Eastside has a few touches that take it above the usual rocking fare. Dirtbag Republic have some keyboards filling out the sound and the lyrics are distinctive and real. The guitars swarm and I love the occasional harmony parts that are a bit Thin Lizzy too.
I really like this bundle of energy and attitude. The guys in Dirtbag Republic have produced a killer record that, whilst not breaking too much ground in terms of originality, is strong on heart. Like Stallone in Rocky, you never bet against the underdog baby!